Annemiek – making a helluva splash in Aarhus

Sixty boats are competing in the 49erFX sailing class at the Sailing World Championship currently being held in Aahus, Denmark. The battle for the World Champion title – and for qualification in the Olympics in Tokyo in two years’ time – is being fought-out over six days of racing …with the final ‘medal’ race taking place on Saturday 11th – this coming weekend. Impatiently, perhaps, we couldn’t wait until the weekend for news so we thought we’d phone Victron-sponsored Dutch sailor Annemiek Bekkering who is taking part in the competition to find out how she is getting on. Amazingly… it turns out!

After completing three of the six days of racing – which have presented the teams with a variety of wind conditions from ‘flat calm’ (that race had to be cut short) to ‘quite blowy’ – we phoned Annemiek on her day-off for an on-the-spot-report, and of course to hear how she is getting on – and were delighted to hear that she and her team mate Annette Duetz are lying in second place! What?  …out of sixty? Yes!

Annemiek and her team mate have been sailing together for five years; as a result they know each other’s moves, and work together very well. The 49erFX is an Olympic class dinghy capable of sailing at 25 knots – at these kinds of speeds things happen pretty fast and maintaining control depends on split-second timing, immaculate tacks and gybes …and on well-orchestrated responses to wind shifts. At 25 knots of hull speed the wind will be blowing quite hard – and any error of judgement could be catastrophic. Having said that, these are the conditions which Annemiek prefers!

Annemiek is racing a new boat for this regatta – and, of course, it has new sails. After extensive sea trials (on which we reported a couple of weeks ago) they decided that they preferred their ‘old’ sails …believing them to have a slight edge for speed – and so the ‘old’ sails have been rigged onto the new boat. That decision has obviously paid-off – it’s only through weeks and months of continual practice that this kind of intuition builds.

One of the races at this event did not go very well at all for Annemiek and Annette – it was the day calm wind. A poor start, or an unlucky position in the lee of another boat – particularly if the blocking boat is sailing to very different tactics – can compound the challenge of trying to climb up the fleet. Fortunately teams can choose to discard the results from one race – the advantage being that one bad result can’t drag down an overall excellent performance.

To put things in perspective – let’s have a look at the difference between the highest, and the lowest ranking teams, halfway through the tournament – that will illustrate just how good you have to be to get on top: (Lowest Points = Highest Rank) The leading team, from Denmark, have 13 points at the moment; Annemiek and Annette have 23 points; and in third place Austria have 28 points. At the other end of the scale the bottom three teams each have around 140 points.

Victron Energy is proud to sponsor Annemiek Bekkering, and we are excited to follow her progress. In the words of an old song: Ain’t no stopping me now…

 

Justin Tyers

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